POSTED: Friday, April 1, 2011 - 4:34pm
UPDATED: Sunday, April 3, 2011 - 1:06pm
Julia Aguilera will graduate from Montwood Middle School this year with her whole life ahead of her.
Before many students look at what options are available to them, the cartels can step in with the promise of quick, easy money through drug smuggling.
Julia knows that's dangerous work.
"People can get killed just by doing something you can get into trouble with," Aguilera said.
And that's where "Operation Detour" comes in.
David Zapp with the Border Patrol is trying to get to students like Julia before the cartels do.
"Schools are calling us trying to get us to come out and present this information to their students. They're hearing from their students that this is a problem in the county," Zapp said.
"Operation Detour" teaches kids how to avoid doing the dirty work of drug trafficking organizations.
"Cartels have started using American high school students and American middle students in order to both smuggle marijuana and aliens into the country and pass the immigration check points," Zapp said.
"15, 17 year-olds all the way through, people have been arrested with drugs. It can either be used to smuggle in backpacks, smuggle it out in vehicles anything you can imagine," Zapp said.
Julia never thought someone her age could be recruited by drug cartels at least not before "Operation Detour."
"I figured they would usually get people their own age to help them because we'll probably just panic once we hear about it," Aguilera said.
Now Julia says she knows the true consequences of getting involved in illegal drugs.